Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Backwater World (GLoGtober 2023)

 (Thanks to Xaosseed for the prompt and CatDragon for running GLoGtober this year)

An example world from my Alternate Fantasy World Generator.

People of this world typically have black blood, lending an inky cast to most variations of appearance.

They are more callous, deceitful and content than folks in our world. War and other mass conflicts, are rare. But most do not account it to be shameful to lie, and in the most dominant cultures it is held that if you own something you have no obligation not to waste it. They would make good capitalists, except...

Trade and Gender roles are completely foreign concepts to them. Rather than any kind of exchange, they often band together on the basis of mere affinity, in its various forms. 

Common classes include: Ranger, Bard, Thief, Fighter, Cleric, Illusionist, Picker

If you are playing something B/X-like, use these rules for a Picker:

  • Picker
    Level as thief. Requirements: Dexterity 9, Alignment lawful
    Prime Requisites: Wisdom
    Hit Dice: 1d4
    Attack: as thief
    Saves: as fighter
    Armour: Any, no shields
    Weapons: Any one-handed weapon
    Languages: Lawful, Common.
    Abilities: Infravision 60’. Surprise attack as ranger. 2-in-6 chance of Hear Noise.
If you are playing something more like a classic GLoG, use these rules:
  • Picker
    Start with: shortspear, hardened leather shirt, waders, spool of copper wire, spyglass
    +1 inventory slot per level
    A: Never surprised, keen hearing, Inhabitants of Imvou assume you are entitled to take almost any object
    B: You can combine two slots' worth of tools into a new, normal slot of tools. You can discern the use of mundane items on sight, and of magical items with an hour of tinkering.
    C: If there is an extant specialist profession that can use an item, you can fake it pretty well.
    D: Speak with Osoge. Your riggers assemble contraptions in half the time.

The planet has been gradually reshaped by its frequent connection with interplanar travelers. "Foreigner" cities and fortresses are common especially on the northern coast of Imvou. It is mostly a desirable destination for such people as a stable dimension where an exceptionally patient wizard of modest means can gradually befriend a workforce of some size. Even with the means of interplanar travel, the exoplaners are usually no match for the Oboczo's rites, and so dreams of conflict are sheathed. There is little for the Foreigners to do but hide out from other planes in their cities, trade in second-rate arbitrage schemes, and attempt to charm the locals. 


Imvou, the southern continent:

Oboczo: Faith-based Silent Rot Post-Industrialists. A religion of communal living and contemplation, with rites involving the consumption of fermented vegetable matter. Many of the faith's core populations are Guak, troll-like humanoids whose work can feed many people efficiently. They have close control over the rot fields which provide for the faithful, and as such their decisions impact everyone else. PCs may desire their superior armor, somehow antibacterial in a way that allows the wearer to go longer without removing it. The unauthorized fringers of the Oboczo seize supplies from those not of the faith and centralize it in wicked depots to disperse to others.

Ekmo: Nation-based Heath Grassland Complex. Surrounding most rot farms, sometimes for hundreds of miles, are sub-prime yet workable territories, divided up in approximate and disputed nations. Even a jumped-up Ekmo king or bureaucratic orcish nabob is likely to pay homage to the faithful of Oboczo when a representative comes to visit, owing to their perceived technical superiority and prestige. Conflict between cultures is resolved through a complex bureaucratic union every five years, where a nation found to be in the wrong can be effectively driven to privation as other nations gang up against them in punishment. Many conflicts concern control of the mighty Ek trees, needled and green-fleshed, with an uncommon ability to store water. You could squeeze fresh wood like a sponge to disgorge double its mass in potable water. Arcane towers dot the landscape, once sponsored by nations but ever-more entangling themselves with the Foreigner cities.

Zovo: Identity-based Crystal Salt Nomads. Sailing along Imvou's intricate coasts, the Zovo follow the migration of fish and animate kelps, closely-guarded gifting routes, or seasonal passages. They are renowned for Saltplanking, a secret process of introducing salt crystals into wood to give it a unique texture and pink coloration. Unmarked grottos serve as the graves of  their greatest heroes, buried with wealth and salinated living fossils. Some errant microorganism, said to originate from a careless Foreigner bastion, is spreading through the waters around Imvou, causing the sea life to rot in new and unwholesome ways. The Zovo more than others has suffered for this, not only finding privation but a new illness, the insidious Brown Grasp.

If: Identity-based Heath Lake Nomads. Have frequent interactions with Ekmo folk, and form an unacknowledged pressure valve on Zovo gifting routes. Much tribute is paid to perverse lake monsters, the species of which Grendel's mother is the most famous example. In return, they are given an unnamed metal which they form into helmets and tools. When held out of the water, the metal absorbs air around it, and when submerged an If nomad can suck on the metal to take in the air it previously absorbed. The people enjoy uncommon prosperity, and they don't give a damn about Foreigner gold.

Uwimob: Clan-based Incorporeal Polluted Post-Industrialists. The ghosts and ghost-adjacents which arrise from the swirling cycles of life and death in the practice of Oboczo, arranged in oversensitive lineages, the eldest and most twisted serving as the heads of each ancestry. These leaders bless and curse certain farms over others to improve their own position in the ghastly hierarchy, an advantage they cannot hold for long as to bolster their lineage's position in undeath they must starve it in life. They know the secrets of this magical immortality, and teach it to the most promising of the Oboczo sages. Meanwhile, some Uwimob devise deadly gauntlets for the living to undertake, showering victors with glory and arcane secrets. 

Imueb, the western continent:

Lokoa: Family-based Glacial Fell Utopia. In the rich remainder of a gradual glacial recession, families of morose snow elves refine their magical arts, "OP" like how elves are sometimes depicted. Their puissance is due in part to the cultivation of thawberries, which are harvested in springtime floods like chilly cranberries. These berries can be rendered into powders and unguents that constitute material useful for researching spells and constructing magical items. While the people of Imvou are lukewarm at best when it comes to the Foreigners, the familiarchs of Lokoa send constant embassies to gain their favor. Recently, these embassies have diminished in grandeur as Lokoa have encountered more and more tunnels revealed by the receding ice, connected to an underground network of strong and magically-resistant freaks they find better to simply pay off with tribute. Meanwhile, Lokoa engage in a cyclical system of raids, feuds, and captive-taking among themselves.

Omobiuz: Region-based Atomic Acid Horticulturalists. While Lokoa families are preeminent in Imueb, much more of the continent is taken up by the gardening communities of the Omobiuz. Disdainful of Foreigners, they tend to rebuff the occasional obsequious otherworlder trader who seeks the secret of their planting, as they are masters of ferns so acidic as to serve as weapons and fences. The most impressive plants are fed in greenhouses by shards of fallen stars, which many Omobiuz cultures consider the blessing hands of providence. In these greenhouses, it is common to wear "garden-armor", also desirable to adventurers for its resistance to beams and dragon breath. Conflict is rare between different regions beyond mocking each others' silly accents and garden-armor styles, but within a region cultures are usually strictly divided along racial lines, with internecine struggles for dominance. Garrisons usually made up exclusively of a dominant ethnic group enforce their customs and hoard magic, and it is here where prospective mages go to train and be trained.

Ujom: Ethnic-based Deep Electricity Complex. Descended from the same culture group as the Omobiuz. Many of their race categories are similar to those the Omobiuz codify, and it is not uncommon for a member of one culture group to assimilate into the other. Ujom broadly avoid absorption by other groups by tapping into the planet's electric core to power simple mechanisms, charge shocking traps, and melt through permafrost in a unique masonic art. Because of the underground predation of the magic-resistant freaks paid tribute by the Lokoa, electrified polearms and other weapons are close to hand under the northern and southern regions of the continent. Ruins of the first great Ujom builders dot the upper crust, haunted by their sins. 

Iahodro: Multicultural-based War Jungle Hunter-gatherers. Spread through the equatorial rainforests of Imueb is a complicated system of interlocking cultures. Generations of wealth and plenty concentrated in the head of the influential Nacre-Ring People's imperial line. At the direction of a clique of Foreigners, she has broken with many traditions limiting conflict to pursue a line of absolute war against several neighboring cultures, a violation so severe that many of the cultural exarchs which aligned themselves with her have broken from her, leaving a strip of dense jungle fighting that spans the continent, safely averted only through Ujom tunnels. Soldier and hunter alike wear wooden helmets blessed by their cleric-rangers to radically improve their sense of hearing. In remote jungle groves, independant illusionists, styling themselves "visionaries", develop and redevelop strange defenses.

Aldau: Nation-based Scrub Mindless Fiefdoms. Bound by the Wands of Jalau, powerful sceptres that enforce a potent and magical form of feudal loyalty. Those directly sworn to the monarchs are as mental extensions, those sworn to the extensions are as bondsmen, all the way down until the frightened or prideful serfs who act freely but with the constant threat of more exultant, invasive service. Foreigner envoys have made friends with some of the nearer Aldau nations, both their rulers and their humble freemen, granting them magic items to reshape the scrubland, from canal-digging suits of armor to weather-commanding towers. Those nations without such gifts are variously in a scramble to seize, align with, or flee these ascendant remakers of the very land. The opulent temples of former dynasties fall into disrepair in the dryest wastes of Aldau, and it is said that disobedient peasants go to swear fealty to strange beasts of blood and bone.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Never Should Have Been Built (GLoGtober 2023)

(Thanks to Locheil for the prompt and CatDragon for running GLoGtober this year)

Through the power of feng shui, warlords and pretenders have long sought to build new capitals in areas that are mystically unassailable. Attempts to storm them fail. Attempts to beseige them are stalled out. Obviously quite desirable.

By chance, the planned city of Rewokie is mystically indefensible. Any army, regardless of the size, can take the city. No stores and no walls (and indeed the City has its deep stores and high walls) suffice against any siege. Owing it its strategic position overlooking a river, to hold Rewokie in times of war is a military necessity. Historians count over a hundred battles fought in the fields around the city, for armies now battle to be the ones assailing it. "Holding Rewokie" is an idiom among the literate class for undertaking a task which is vital but easily disrupted. 

The administration of Rewokie is often given to ambitious generals, distrusted second sons, and wizards. Perversely, by commonly receiving standout governors and avoiding battles or seiges, the population of Rewokie has grown at a steady pace and it has become an ever more vital resource in the war machines of the generals of the land. Its fate is uncertain, for it is now whispered that underground monster freaks are surfacing ever more in this fallen age, and much hateful work could they do in the vulnerable city of Rewokie, only to hustle away by night with all the plunder they can carry, without a care for the military "necessity" of holding Rewokie.

Hubert Robert's "Fire in Rome"

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Location: Height of Follies (GLoGtober 2023)

(Thanks to Primeuation for the prompt and CatDragon for running GLoGtober this year)

Dungeon generated by Donjon

The local farmhand managed to throw a loop around a stone by one of the stairs, a floating stone cross that has been blowing around ever since that storm last week. The top is covered in grass, rootless trees, and a distressed horse. Its jagged sides show occasional openings-- doorways into the old stone cross. Well-connected local oldsters and passing pistoleros speak in conspiratorial tones. Seems they want someone to go inside.

The cross is about 40 feet up in the air, with a rope running up to area 2. You could get a run up and jump from a nearby cliff, if you wanted to grab at the door to area 9 or scrabble on top.


  1. Cyberfied crow murder (+2 morale)
  2. old elfin hermit. Knows 2 random cleric spells, random alignment this century.
  3. antediluvian slave poltergeist
  4. living architecture. (d4: 1. walls/ceiling, 2. floor-crawler, 3. doorway, 4. couch)
  5. Nanobots (resemble a pile of silver crabs. Stats as grey ooze)
  6. 1d8 traumatized troglodytes (-2 morale)


  1. Cratered Battery. Stubby weapon consoles along the right-hand wall have exploded, damaging the entire room and leaving it a pile of rubble. Pipes along the ceiling which used to carry some kind of fluid are now completely dry.
  2. Landing. Frescos of frolicky figures carrying boxy weapons and wearing unfortunate fashion accessories. The door to area 3 is stuck due to mundane mildew.
  3. Mirror Hallway. Two gilded mirrors (worth 250 each by material alone) are set in the wall facing each other, halfway between areas 1 and 10. A small ruby on top of each fires a beam of red light at the forehead of anyone entering, tracking them as they move around. Anything that touches the surface of one mirror goes through it and comes out the other one. However, they are not only set into the wall but set into pistons. Standing in front of one mirror causes both pistons to fire, causing a save vs paralysis or getting caught between them, effectively entering a portal to nowhere and disapearing forever. The door to area 2 is stuck due to mundane mildew.
  4. Cyberfication Vats, sides covered in crow shit. In each is a chromish material hovering on the surface of a clear fluid like in those hydro dipping videos. Covering a body part cyberfies you, give +2 to mental saves (+2 loyalty for NPCs), an excellent sense of figures and distances, and dulled emotions. For each addtional body part cyberfied, get a random mutation, reflavored as spontaneous hardware. Cyberfied weapons get +1 to hit and damage.
  5. Defective Battery. Stubby weapon consoles along the outer wall, with little windows looking down. The consoles are meant to fire astral beams down at targets up to three miles away, but the fireports are corroded shut. Messing with the consoles cause a misfire, and everyone in the room must save vs breath to avoid taking 2d6 damage. If you can open up the consoles and retrieve the planar bullets, they are quite valuable to the right wizard. Otherwise they make fair fireworks.
  6. Incongruous Pool. Little koi pond, smooth stones, pleasant yet peeling painted accents. The fish here speak ancient Atlantean, and if you can somehow understand them you will hear them begging to be returned to their angelic forms. Knowledgeable of the dungeon's layout.
  7. Troglodyte commandos. Former barracks now home to 6 troglodytes, armed with long wands of magic missile with 2d10 charges each. They wear skimpy Atlantean military uniforms, but probably not in the way they were intended.
  8. Cables. Four giant cyberfied spindles of 5000' feet of animate cables, with vague memories of their purpose and parameters. Capable of extreme violence. Stats as 5 HD hydras.
  9. Reception Chamber. High, gridded, puffy ceiling over a statue that's fallen and shattered, a mouldering once-fine set of couches, two gilded statuettes, and fine golden silverware, as well as a miniature exotic fruit tree worth 500 gold coins all on its own. If someone tries to steal any valuable, squares from the gridded ceiling will shoot down to engulf them (save vs death to avoid). If avoided, they must keep running as they go, and the falling ceiling essentially creates walls behind them as they run. Damaging the wall sections is as difficult as damaging a web spell's web, but instead of being flammable it is brittle and can be broken up by hammers and the like.
  10. Helm, resembling a cross between a modern forklift operation panel and a water mill. A teamster working together with a miller could repair the old stone cross and allow a team of two drivers and several spotters to fly it around. As it stands, messing around with the controls should cause the DM to roll a d2 for axis of rotation (N-S, E-W), then a d360 to determine how many degrees the entire dungeon rolls. The door to area 17 is stuck due to mildew.
  11. Stairs. Lead up to the top of the old stone cross. Very steep, as though designed for gracile, tall angels. In the landing is the camp of a team of conspirators, here to investigate and loot the dungeon. They will cover their faces with red bandanas if they hear anyone coming. Though only their head, Dustred, knows the name of their order, they are the Red Stone Cross. Three fighters with chain armor and copis/poleaxe/whip, one magician with a wand of sparks and the spells darkness and levitate, and a sneakthief dwarf with a sledgehammer.
  12. Shame of shames, the slave's quarters are here. Small, uncomfortable bed. Various glasses and slates cover a rickety desk. The poltergeist can always be found here. Hidden under the bed are the septagonal gold coins that the slave was saving up to buy their freedom. Will be annoyed if someone tries to take them.
  13. Stone Guardian. Knows all languages due to magical enhancements. Has one hand for choking and an auger-hand for poking. Morose, truly a huge sad sack. Can tell you a little about how things used to be before Atlantis was raised. Former masters hid a cache of septagonal gold coins under the flagstones, and the guardian will point this out if she likes you.
  14. Ballasts. In an unwise arrangement, the middle of this room has reversed gravity, with a sloped pit in the ceiling. It, and the floor on the perimeter, are dense with heavy leaden balls. Currently, about half of the balls are pulling up in the ceiling and half are pulling down on the floor. As the equilibrium of the room changes, the height of the entire dungeon will change correspondingly. Five normal-size humans standing around the perimeter will ground the dungeon. Everything in the room getting fitted into the middle will shoot it into space.
  15. Leaking Battery. The stubby weapon consoles against the wall have been eroded and ruined. Pipes run along the ceiling, leaking astral fluid in spurts and drips that dry up only a few seconds after they hit the floor. If these dribble on you, save vs devices or reroll your intelligence score. After the second time you are exposed, you also get a big headache and if someone listens carefully they can hear sloshing in your head. After the third time, your brains start leaking out of your ears. Get -6 intelligence and, if you're still alive, learn a weird new language.
  16. Unstable Passage. Half the ceiling has collapsed, dirt and stone fallen in. Traversing the area involves squeezing and crawling. If you clear the rubble away, you will find a slate of Atlantean spells and a blocky gold necklace, both clutched by a lanky, tall skeleton. Curled up with the skeleton is something like the skeleton of a small dog. The door to area 17 is stuck due to mildew.
  17. Aquarium. Dominates the bottom-left corner. Several colorful fish, one black one. An eel that struggles to swim properly. The door to areas 10 and 16 are stuck due to mildew.
  18. Cracks. Run through the floor, very concerning. Every time someone walks through, there is an [occupants]-in-6 chance the floor collapses and they fall through the stone cross to the ground. (So if four people take turns crossing one at a time, there are four 1-in-6 chances of collapse. If they all walk in together, that's four 4-in-6 chances.)
  19. Drained Battery. Stubby weapon consoles look out from the stone cross through thin slits. By some miracle, the fireports are still operable. By fiddling with the consoles, you can fire astral beams at random spots visible through the slits. However, the planar bullets loaded into the battery are drained, and would merely function as an arrow barrage.
  20. Captains' Bang-Pad. Gauche and deteriorated furniture, three sunken-in beds, a spooky wooden statue, a locked chest full of love letters in the Atlantean language and a heap of expired prophylactics.

Considerations on Cursed Items (GLoGtober 2023)

(Thanks to Semiurge for the prompt and CatDragon for running GLoGtober this year)

Cursed items in dungeon games have sometimes suffered due to tthe gradual shift of how such games tend to be played. I'm sure it made sense at the time to liberally spike treasure hoards with shields of arrow attraction and swords of you-have-to-you-use-them and they're -1, but for many games, even those riffing on old-style dungeoneering themes, it may be good to rethink the approach.

For this new approach, I would like to consider a quite famous magic item, the One Ring from Lord of the Rings fame. You could argue it's not even a cursed object at all, being an intelligent item that works as intended in the most straightforward ways possible given its few tools available to it. But that's kind of neat, isn't it? When I think about what's so cool about the One Ring, I consider:

  1. It has a strong connection to an important faction. (In literature, this is story relevance)
  2. It has a powerful ability which turns out to be a minor byproduct of its true significance (invisibility)
  3. ... and the ability is useless against powerful members of its aligned faction (Ring-Wraiths can see you better, in fact)
  4. You can study old lore to find out more about it.
  5. It has a hidden strangifier (throwing it in a fire reveals a cool poem that proves what it is)
  6. It calls trouble.
  7. It corrupts the mind of the bearer and those around them.
  8. It must be destroyed to solve the problems it poses
  9. ... but it is difficult to destroy.
Generalizing from this method, we can take any useful magic item, like a cloak of elvenkind or a +2 sword or a bag of holding, and answer these questions:
  1. This item is important to...
  2. It is useful because... (perhaps answered by the item you chose)
  3. But it is useless against...
  4. You can learn more by...
  5. Its hidden strangifier is...
  6. It brings trouble by...
  7. It is onerous because...
  8. You can't just throw it away because...
  9. You can't easily destroy it because...
To test this out, I will apply the method to a +2 sword, a bag of holding, and, just for a challenge, a wand of light.

The Caprine Blade, a +2 scimitar of shining steel, the edge curling back like a goat horn.

This item is important to the two kings of Capria, rival claimants for a nearby throne.
It is useful because it strikes truer and better than any mundane blade.
But it is useless against either king, if he can gather the rest of the regalia and sit on the throne uncontested. Then he will be able to commander the wielder.
You can learn more by consulting frescos and cryptic inscriptions in the tombs of Caprine nobility.
Its hidden strangifier is shown when the sword is used to injure a goat. The blood turns to bright violet smoke, in which a horned face can be seen.
It brings trouble by focusing improbable and mythic events onto the life of the wielder-- kidnappings, crossroad knights, prophetic dreams, affable bandits, and bridge trolls.
It is onerous because it cannot be hidden. The sword is always the most prominent thing in a crowd.
You can't just throw it away because both king's agents search for it, and if one manages to get it he will transform into a horrific goat demon.
You can't easily destroy it because the shards will always find their way to each other again, and in the meantime there will be plagues and curses upon the land.

The First Bag, a humble sack of sewn lionhide, battered and ragged. 

This item is important to giants and goblinoids, who consider it sacred beyond reckoning.
It is useful because it can carry any amount of unliving material, including Death himself.
But it is useless against the usurper goblin king Mabdab Boney-Face, a necromancer and warlord par horreur.
You can learn more by interpreting the legends of goblinoid shamans regarding the curse Death laid on clever heroine Zheepdeep Skullbiter.
Its hidden strangifier is found when it touches a corpse up to three days fresh, which will get up and flee the bag.
It brings trouble by rejuvenating long-dead giants and antediluvians wherever it is taken.
It is onerous because it isn't. When the bag is in hand, it weighs only a little. When it's not close at hand, everything else you're carrying starts to weigh more.
You can't just throw it away because those damn undead giants will seek it out and use it to flood and burn your sinful contemporaries in ultimate generational warfare.
You can't easily destroy it because the one thing you love more than anything is lost within, and to destroy the bag would destroy everything inside.

Gatestaff, a thick wand of ancient, polished pine.

This item is important to the Lightblinders, a society dedicated to freeing a star that was long ago imprisoned within the staff.
It is useful because it can fire a glow that blinds or guides, with many charges
But it is useless against the Lightblinders, with their searchlight eyes, who ever seek it out.
You can learn more by consulting wizardly royal advisors, the students of the students of those who imprisoned the star long ago.
Its hidden strangifier is glimpsed in total darkness, faint writing that glows, warning against "breaking the gate"
It brings trouble by glowing in the presence of those it thinks can bring it closer to its servants.
It is onerous because every time you actually use the wand, consuming charges, you reduce the strength of it as a prison.
You can't just throw it away because it sometimes fires a blazing beacon, using up charges and calling the Lightblinders. A wielder can contest this by strength of will.
You can't easily destroy it because that will free the horrible star from its jail and cause untold catastrophe.

As a parting note, I observe that the plan to destroy the One Ring was based on some pretty clever (dare I say OSR-compliant) reasoning, that the Fires of Mount Doom must have been able to melt the ring because they were hot enough to forge it. Feel free to design special ways of disarming these major cursed objects, but allow for good problem solving as well. These items don't need to radically redefine the aims of the PCs. It's just nice that they might.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

d20 Literary Passage Prompts

Sometimes, a PC will find a library, or some other store of lore, and will want to peruse it. In the past I've determined that they might find a scroll on some topic and provide them with some general information, allowing them to ask more in-depth questions as pertains to that domain of study. I'm not totally satisfied with that procedure. It feels too much like what the player might do in absence of a library. It's not unreasonable for them to say at any time "What does my character know about their religion?" Sure, having a book might theoretically give more information, but it's my inclination to be generous with that kind of information anyway, and unless I already prepared some historical revelation, I'm unlikely to introduce one there.

So, here's a slightly different approach. When a PC peruses a historical book, or an account of some distant land, or something else that might have a notable passage, you can ask them to roll a d20, then consult this table as a prompt. The outcome might come up later, might inspire them to seek it out, or it might not. Therefore, you only really need to improvise something that is passingly interesting. If a PC starts thumbing through a shelf of books and they roll a "1", even on my worst day I can mention how there's a passage describing the blade Darktaker, which steals the heat from its victims and leaves them a crunchy, icy corpse. Maybe they'll say "cool" and put the book back, and maybe they'll ask me a question that leads me to prep a short adventure location elsewhere on the map.

It would be neat, if a PC takes a book to study more fully, to roll 1d4+1 passages and string them together as a more full narrative.

d20 Literary Passages

  1. Cool sword, its deeds, and/or its wielder
  2. Horrible, visually-striking monsters
  3. Act of hubris against the gods
  4. Dark lord, put down desperately, remains in some vestige waiting to return
  5. Horrific donjon where they did something horrible to the innocent
  6. Description of a chosen one, and the chaos they will bring
  7. Incredible mount
  8. Wonders of an ancient wizard, now ruined(?) and unclaimed(?)
  9. Truly transformative act of love
  10. Reign of unbearably pointless cruelty
  11. Betrayal and unbecoming end of a great personage
  12. Alternate account of important religious event, with a surprising cameo
  13. Legend of how a great treasure was hidden
  14. Rare plant and its remarkable uses
  15. Order of strange martial artists, magicians, or experts
  16. Uncommonly humble person defeats cruel authorities through uncommon decency
  17. Ancient demigod or long-dead race, and their deeds
  18. Strange, perhaps entirely fictitious, customs of a distant land
  19. Massive battle, with great deeds recorded and seemingly impossible numbers
  20. Something to remind us that everyone is human— description of the writer's cat, complaining about a hangnail, etc.
Trying out the "full narrative approach", I rolled a 2+1, meaning there are three other passages I can add to the book which describes Darktaker. Rolling three times, I got an 11, a 19, and a 20. Going out of order, I might say that the book describes a military campaign that partially intersects with the setting of the game, where the wielder Sir Brian came to prominence in a battle where he slew 300 trolls personally, and captured 20 fortresses, and was 12 feet tall himself. Later, he was betrayed by his second at his own wedding, a man who coveted his military rank and struck in pure envy. After the assassination, his second threw Darktaker into a pond which froze and slid away as an iceberg. At the end of the book, the scribe complains that her hand is sore from all that writing. Seems like it would be a fun way to add a little color to me.

Friday, October 6, 2023

Alternate Fantasy Dimension Generator

 This tool is for generating fantasy worlds somewhat like the one where your story takes place, with multiple fantasy species, diverse ecosystems, and dense with adventure locations. It might be useful if the PCs somehow travel to another dimension without a lot of time for you to prep. Some planes are traditionally ascribed to having a material theme (like fire, water, nightmares, etc.) or ethical valence (lawful evil, neutral stupid, rancid vibes). For those planes, I bet this generator still works, but you'll have to manually replace all the cities with fire cities and the presidents with fire presidents and so on.

The generator starts by describing inhabitants of the fantasy world in general. There will be a lot of variation, just as in your main fantasy world there are probably all sorts of strange creatures, but hopefully the prompt will give you a baseline to riff off of. It will then run through a survey of the intelligent humanoids, divided by broad regions which contain one or more culture groups. Even a single culture group should be imagined as containing diverse multitudes, both to awe with versimilitude and to give you leeway as you fill in any gaps over play. You could imagine the whole setting seen in Lord of the Rings as happening within one or two culture groups. Especially when culture groups in the same region are of different types, it's likely that there is great intermingling, and one spot might be home to all of them.

I hope you find the way I've simplified an entire fantasy world to be useful and intriguing, rather than a statement on good practices in anthropology.